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Astoria teens charged in brutal stabbing: DA

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Jose Leal, 18, was arrested March 18 after cutting and dying his hair to avoid capture, authorities said. He admitted to stabbing the victim and was charged with attempted murder, gang assault, assault and criminal possession of a weapon in the attack, the DA said. Leal was arraigned March 19.His associate, 19-year-old Pedro Cortez, was arrested on March 3 and charged with gang assault and assault, according to the DA. Cortez was arraigned March 4.If convicted, both face up to 25 years in prison. Their next court date is April 10.The attack occurred March 2 around 2:30 a.m. An eyewitness spotted the victim chasing Leal and two other men down the street near the intersection of 14th Street and 31st Avenue, according to a criminal complaint filed by the Queens DA's office.The witness saw Leal whistle, at which point Cortez and seven other young men ran out of a building toward the victim, the DA said.Using sticks, pipes and fists, the group attacked the victim, yelling "stab him," the complaint said. Cortez struck the man with a pipe, the complaint said.Leal then attacked the victim with a brown-handled folding knife, stabbing him in the side and cutting him across the chest and stomach, the complaint said.The victim survived the attack and was taken to Weill Cornell Medical Center with multiple stab wounds, a collapsed lung and disembowelment, the complaint said. Surgeons had to operate to repair the disembowelment, authorities said.Leal's father, Pedro, said his son was innocent."They play a little bit of pool, and he don't know what happened," Pedro Leal said. "He don't know nothing." Police were still searching for the other assailants by press time Tuesday.Reach reporters Aaron Davis and Jeremy Walsh by e-mail at news@timesledger.com.

Updated 6:58 pm, October 10, 2011
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